Somewhat amazingly, one of the most original thinkers in Hollywood, aka Joss Whedon, is being sued, along with Lionsgate and Drew Goddard, by an author who claims that the 2012 film Cabin in the Woods has infringed upon his own 2006 work. Cabin in the Woods-Gate begins with Facebook being deluged with links back to journalistic coverage of this alleged “crime.”
As one Facebook comment noted, on the special features portion of the DVD for said film, both Joss and Drew talk about writing the screenplay back in 1998. For those with math issues, that is eight years before the published work by Peter Gallagher.
The book, titled “The Little White Trip: A Night in the Pines” has a plot where five young friends, two girls and three guys, go to a “remote” cabin and find that a killer, who murdered the buildings previous inhabitants, is stalking and killing this new group. Later in the book, it turns out that the whole thing is being filmed as “entertainment.”
No mention of old, terrible “Gods,” the end of the world…or weed. The self-published book was done in two 7,500 “runs” which the author flogged on the street in Venice, Santa Monica, etc. Gallagher states that he finds portions of the book “identical” with the film and he is asking for $10 million in damages.
Unfortunately for Gallagher, if Goddard and Whedon did actually write the initial screenplay in 1998 (and can prove it) then he has no legal leg to stand on. Despite his claim of registering the tale with the Writers Guild of America in 2007, the predated screenplay makes his charges of “copyright infringement” null and void.
Another comment on the social platform mentions, “why did Gallagher wait so long to file?” Good question.
Surely, these charges should have been made at the time of the film’s release. If, as the author stated, the similarities were so obvious, why take so long to lay the claim? Could this delay be down to no one else feeling there was a case?
In “The Wrap” the actual complaint states that the “plots, characters, sequence of events, stories, dialogue and incidents are virtually identical.” If the intent of these claims was to have fans rushing out to read the book to see for themselves Gallagher may have to point out a few of the more specific “similarities.”
In any other case of alleged “infringement” the author stands a good chance of being, at the very least, heard. In this case time and evidence may stop the lawsuit in its legal tracks. Certainly the idea of Goddard and Whedon working on the screenplay to Cabin in the Woods back in the days of ‘Buffy’ and Angel has a sort of logistical sense.
Both men have worked together for years on both shows and, if memory serves, on other Whedon projects as well, i.e. “Dollhouse” and “Firefly,” although I could be wrong. Joss had the services of many a talented writer on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “Angel,” and all are a very talented lot.
This could be a case of wishful thinking, and I believe that is indeed the case, that will fade quietly into the background. Chronology will settle this claim and it is doubtful that anyone with real intelligence will think for one moment that Joss Whedon copied anyone else’s work when he and Drew Goddard penned “The Cabin in the Woods.” In fact, in my own review of the film, I stated that it felt like a big screen adaptation of Wolfram and Hart from Angel, which came out much earlier than 2006.
15 April 2015